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Christian UK Woman Loses Job After Refusing to Work Sundays, Challenges Courts

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By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter
October 21, 2013|5:30 pm

A 58-year-old Christian woman from the U.K. is pushing a legal case against her former children's care employer who did not allow her to take Sundays off due to her religious beliefs, leading to her losing her job.

"We are seeing secular court's ruling on core components of Christian practice," said Andrea Williams, founder of the Christian Legal Centre, which is backing Celestina Mba's case to the Court of Appeals.

"The courts have acted to protect the kara bracelet of the Sikhs, Afro cornrow haircuts, the wearing of the hijab and a Muslim's right to fast, but have refused to grant protection to the cross of the Christian Sunday."

Express.co.uk noted that if Mba's argument that employers have a duty to accommodate beliefs of employees is successful, that could create a precedent where other religious people can seek certain rights as well – such as Muslims taking off Fridays and Jewish people being excused on Fridays and Saturdays.

Although Mba, identified as a Baptist and mother of three, has found a new job in London where she is allowed to take Sundays and Mondays off, she is still challenging the 2010 incident concerning Brightwell children's home. According to the child care worker, she was first told that she would have her Sundays off request respected, but then Brightwell began asking her to work on those days as well.

"I was willing to work at any unsocial time or shift in order to preserve my Sundays, I was prepared to work nights, or Saturdays," Mba has said, and added that she doesn't just go to church on Sundays, but spends the entire day caring for people in the community as part of her ministerial team.

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"We have so many different faiths in this society. I am standing up for my beliefs, not for anybody else's. I am not imposing them on anybody else," Mba added.

Mba's case comes following the major victory for religious freedom at the European Court of Human Rights in January, when another Christian woman, Nadia Eweida, sued her employer who had tried to get her to cover up her cross necklace while at work.

The Court ruled that the U.K. had violated Eweida's religious freedom rights under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, after she lost a number of hearings in Britain regarding her case. She had been working at a British Airways' check-in counter at Heathrow Airport in London, but was told to cover up her cross necklace, while accommodations were made for other religious employees, including Hindus and Muslims.

Ewaida's eventual victory was seen as a major step in favor of religious freedom in Europe, which Mba will hope to benefit from as well.

The Christian Legal Centre did not respond to The Christian Post's request for further comments by the time of press.

 

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